Desert Pupfish's new 55g tank - Page 4 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #46 of 51 (permalink) Old 07-09-2019, 12:57 PM Thread Starter
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Time for an update. Was away traveling again, so long overdue.

6/29: Completed the erythromycin treatment, and after the final 50% WC it looked great. Really wish I'd taken some pics, but it was late & I was exhausted, and had to leave the following day. I was able to do a lot of clean up, and do some rearranging. Had some stunted water wisteria that had very few roots and wouldn't stay rooted in the STS substrate, but some that got caught on a Java fern seemed to be thriving. So I stuck them on one 0f the cholla pieces. Had some Java fern pieces I'd tried to glue to a lava rock, but the Gorilla Glue didn't work. Is there a certain kind of superglue one should use instead? So I just attached it he other cholla stick. Figure it'll make a good portable backdrop to hide the filter intake, etc.

The val was thriving despite the daily Excel dosing--the largest up to about 20", and putting out runners. That and the crypts had gotten a couple of Osmocote+/STS capsules, and it seemed to make a big difference. Had to relocate on of the crypt balansae, and though the top growth looked unchanged, the roots were 2-3x larger than when I planted them. So I'm hoping once they get adjusted and grow a good root system, they'll really take off. Of the stem plants the H. Sunset has continued to flourish, but that's not really saying much. I'm convinced that if there's a nuclear apocalypse, that would be the only thing to survive besides cockroaches and Cher. The ludwigia, bacopa & proserpinaca are growing slowly, but appear somewhat stunted. Seems the algae, and now the hornwort, are sucking up any water column nutrients. The hornwort has grown prodigiously, so I weighted it down with lead strips in the back so it wouldn't shade everything. The pea puffers & assassin snails made a noticeable dent in the snail population, the otos were keeping the glass & plants algae free, the guppies were dropping more fry, and the ghost shrimp were everywhere cleaning up.

7/8: Came back to more green water. Not quite pea soup, and it doesn't smell like old hiking boots--so I think it's just generic GWA. The hornwort had exploded and is covering much of the tank again. Gifting that and some H. Sunset trimmings to a couple of members here. Will leave a couple of small hornwort stems, but I think it's probably outlived its usefulness and will end up removing it entirely. The val has reached to top of the tank (2 ft) and is already arching over, so figure that's gonna replace the hornwort as my monster plant. Crypts seem unchanged, as do the rest of the stem plants. Talking to @nilocg about what kind of water column ferts to dose. Starting the Excel again--which along with a series of 20% WC should help reduce the algae. And cut the lighting by an hour or so. Leaving again in 10 days for 2 wks, but will see if I can source a red tiger lily and some kind of red sword (suggestions/plants welcomed) for some low tech color in addition to the H. Sunset--since I'm not convinced the ludwigia or proserpinaca will succeed in the long run. And maybe an Anubias Congensis for a dark back corner. I know a carpet is probably not an option for my 2' deep tank, but after I'm back next month. would like to find something to cover the foreground. Would love some P. downoi, but might not be enough light. Maybe some crypt parva, or dwarf sag? Anyone had luck with a javamoss carpet? I hear susswasstertang is bullet proof also. Again, any suggestions and/or plants welcomed.

That's it for now. Sorry for the long read. I need to find more time to update this more regularly....
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post #47 of 51 (permalink) Old 07-14-2019, 12:57 PM Thread Starter
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Still have the pea soup, and now it's a little brownish and not as bright green as before. Still no funky smell, so it's not cyano. Removed the hornwort because the bottom parts were starting to get shaded & turn brown, so didn't want them shedding needles all over the place. There seems to be enough organic stuff in the water as it is, though not sure where it's all coming from

Did a 30% WC today. The prefilter was clogged with brown gunk--not sure if it was brown algae, decomposed plant melt, or both. Removed that and the bottom sponge in the HOB, and replaced it with a mesh bag of filter floss weighted down with bioballs, to see if it would help polish the water. What I removed was pretty brown, so it seems to be working. Will check & change it daily to see if that helps with water clarity. If not, will try adding the carbon filter that came with it, which I hadn't used yet.

Went ahead and ordered a "Purple Knight" Aflame Sword, a red tiger lily, and some dwarf sag pusilla. Wanted to put in some more heavy root feeders since those seem to be doing well. One theory for the pea soup is that the STS has bound up all the nutrients and left the water column bare--which could be why the val is going great guns. The crypt balansae isn't growing much, but the leaves look healthy, and when I had to move one I noticed the roots were about 3x longer than when I planted them. So I suspect it's getting plenty of substrate nutrients, and hopefully the top growth will take off at some point. Started a low dose of Thrive, along with the Excel to see if that will help the sulking stem plants. The ludwigia especially is not happy--puts out some small stunted leaves, and for every new leaf drops an old one. The proserpinaca is putting out some bright green new growth, but the leaves are small. The bacopa seems to be doing pretty well, and the H. Sunset hasn't been doing much after its big trim earlier this week.

Interested to hear others experience with dwarf sag pusilla. Was considering crypt parva but since it's cousin balansae isn't doing much yet, wanted to try another fast growing root plant. Read varying reports of how it can be anything from a nice low carpet to growing a foot or more. Hoping it'll get enough late from my Beamswork DA90 LED with 5000 lumens. Haven't measured teh PAR, but the substrate is about 24 inches from the water surface, and the light is about 2" above the surface.

The guppy fry are growing larger, and they're starting to color up, and some are showing fancy tails. The otos are fat & happy as ever, and there's a thin layer of GDA for them to feed on. The pea puffers don't like my HOB, and only come out when I turn the filter off to feed or clean. They're keeping the bladder & ramshorn snails in check, and have grown considerably. They seem rather timid--not sure if they're intimated by the big relatively open tank, the strong current, or what. But hoping they'll stay well behaved and play nice with the angels when I add them. Otherwise they'll have to go. I'll still have the 3 assassin snails I put in. Haven't seen any of them since they sank into the substrate when I got them, but they must be eating some of the MTS sicne their numbers seems to have stablized as well.

Thinking about getting a few more ghost shrimp to see if they'll breed. Anyone have experience with breeding them in a community tank? I see on here lots of established colonies of RCS,but never hear about ghosts. Hopefully a few will hideout & survive to becomes a self-sustaining colony. Figure their young will make good snacks for the other fish.

Leaving town again for 2 wks this weekend. Tried topping the tank off to the rim to compensate for the inevitable evaportion. , but I've learned it leaks under the rim in one corner. Not a big deal usually, but keeps me from filling it all the way up. Will try some plastic rap over 2/3 of the top, which should help. Will also test out a gel food the LFS recommended to see if will last a several days without fouling the water. I suspect the snails & shrimp will make short work of long before the guppies can eat it all.

Sorely tempted by Petco's $1/gal sale. That only applies up to 29g I think, but I could get a new 75 for $95 half price. Fortunately the sale lasts for a month, so we'll see what I come home to next month after my 2 wk trip. But that would also require a new light, and I'd probably wanna supplement the Aqueon 70 HOB with a sponge filter or something. Really don't want to have to declare defeat to the algae & break it down after 2 mos. Trying to be patient and keep adding plants to outcompete the algae. In the meantime, I keep reminding myself that while it bothers me, the fish & other livestock are loving it. Time will tell....
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post #48 of 51 (permalink) Old 07-14-2019, 01:36 PM
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Man, this is getting to be a bear for you. I'm at a loss for direct solutions for your green water issues. So I'll just spitball some ideas and questions. Clearly your travel obligations are interrupting any good progress you may have been making to rid it. What were the results of the blackout a few posts back? Did the green water come back just as bad as before? Was there even any temporary relief? Who feeds your fish while you are away? Or do you rely on vacation blocks? What has your lighting been like lately? Does it coincide with the daylight hours of high ambient light from your pool? Only one HOB still? I've read about people running UV filters for this sort of problem. but I loathe to suggest you run out and buy stuff. Probably redundant filters if anything so that your the fine 1st stage filter doesnt get clogged and leave your tank with little filtration for long weeks when you're not around.


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post #49 of 51 (permalink) Old 07-14-2019, 06:47 PM
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I guess im a bit stumped..... there is obviously 'something'. I must have missed something.
Did the water ever get any better?
Do you use a fish 'feeder'?
How ard you reading right now? ph, gh, kh (super hard or soft can cause issues), ammonia, nitrates, nitrites?
Honestly- I would have broken it down by now- I commend your dedication. I would have changed substrates, no ferts, cleaned everything till it sparkles and start it back up. Its a glass cube that we try to make an ecosystem. Something is bound to go wrong- but never for this length of time IMO.

Note: ipkiss and I said something very similar. Not deliberately.
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Last edited by livebearerlove; 07-14-2019 at 06:48 PM. Reason: ipkiss already said it
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post #50 of 51 (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 04:26 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ipkiss View Post
Man, this is getting to be a bear for you. I'm at a loss for direct solutions for your green water issues. So I'll just spitball some ideas and questions. Clearly your travel obligations are interrupting any good progress you may have been making to rid it. What were the results of the blackout a few posts back? Did the green water come back just as bad as before? Was there even any temporary relief? Who feeds your fish while you are away? Or do you rely on vacation blocks? What has your lighting been like lately? Does it coincide with the daylight hours of high ambient light from your pool? Only one HOB still? I've read about people running UV filters for this sort of problem. but I loathe to suggest you run out and buy stuff. Probably redundant filters if anything so that your the fine 1st stage filter doesnt get clogged and leave your tank with little filtration for long weeks when you're not around.
Thanks guys--this is getting a little old, to be honest. Some answers to your questions:

I did the erythromycin & blackout treatment, and it did make a big difference. Not 100%, but much improved, so I thought I was finally on the right track. I put in a couple of bunches of hornwort before leaving again--thinking it's alleged alleopathy & general nutrient-sucking would outcompete the algae. But while the hornwort flourished and took over nearly the top third of the tank by the time I'd gotten back, the water wasn't any better. I'd planted most of it in the substrate, and it was shading the lower portions that were starting to turn brown--not to mention shading all the other plants. Didn't want the hornwort to start shedding needles given how notoriously messy it is, so removed all but two sprigs this week.

Feeding: Have mostly let the fish fend for themselves while away. The pea puffers will only eat snails--plenty of those for them. The otos will only eat algae. They've ignored the green wafers, cucumber & kale I've tried test feeding them, but the snails & ghost shrimp made short work of those. The guppies have been fine with no food when I'm away. The fry seem to have found plenty in the hornwort & substrate, and the adults are probably feeding on algae & fry--either their own or the ghost shrimps'. Did have one experienced fishkeeper stay a week the last time I was away, and I know she didn't overfeed. And there weren't any ammonia or nitrite/nitrate spikes--those have all stayed consistently at zero since the cycle finished. The one exception is right after my first dose of Thrive a few days ago when it nitrites tested at 5.

Haven't tried vacation blocks. One of my earliest childhood traumas was when we returned from a family vacation to find the "feeder shell" for the goldfish bowl had killed everything & made a putrid mess. Still have PTSD from that.... That said, I did let the LFS owner talk me into trying out a "TetraWeekend block"--just daphnia in agar according to the label. Will try a small amount this week on days before water changes to see if they'll even eat it. I suspect the snails & shrimp will swarm & devour it before the fish even find it--just like they did with the veggies, so doubt I'll end up using it if I'm not around should it go uneaten & foul the water. More than likely the fish will be fine for 2 wks, and even if a few of the younger guppies die off the shrimp & assassin snails will devour them before they can decompose. Early on one of my female guppies bullied to death a male & rival female, and I never found any trace the corpses.....

Lighting: I've been at 6hrs a day--from 1:30 to 7:30 pm. There is some direct diffuse light though glass block that hits the side of the tank the last 20-30 min of the day, so timed it to coincide with that. But yes, the room gets light by 5:30am, and the north-facing room is filled with ambient light reflected off the pool through the window wall. Cut it down to 5hrs/day today, and will see if that makes a difference. Guess I could go to 4hrs/day while I'm away, but am afraid less than that could kill my plants....

Filter: Yes, it's one Aquaclear 70 in the middle of the tank--so the flow hits the front glass, goes down and washes over the substrate towards the back. I'm not seeing any totally dead areas (much to the distress of the puffers, who only come out when I turn the filters off to feed or clean) Nor am I finding any collection of detritus in the corners or anywhere. Most of the substrate is covered with plants or rock, so I can't really use a gravel vac--which was way too strong and sucking up plants, fish, shrimp, etc. But I do blast everything with a turkey baster when I'm sucking out water during changes. Between the shrimp & snails I'm not seeing much organic matter, just a fine cloud of mulm when I blast the substrate. Just ordered a rigid 5/8" tube to attach to a drain hose to make it easier to clean during WC, so that'll help. I do leave the filter off during WC & cleaning because the HOB turns into a waterfall when the water level drops and wreaks havoc. @DaveKS did suggest a way to jury-rig a DIY extension to soften the fall when the HOB didn't fit all the way down on the tank rim. But I sanded the rim enough so it now sits flush. But could try doing that during the water changes so I can leave the filter on to suck up in real time what I blast out. Leaving the sponge prefilter off for now, and replaced the inside sponge with polyester floss to see if that will catch more of any gunk than the sponge. And will definitely leave the prefilter sponge off while away. Never used the carbon pad--just added more bioballs instead. Would carbon or purigen help remove the dissolved organics? And do I need even more filtration than the current AC70? If so, would simple sponge filter do the trick?

Quote:
Originally Posted by livebearerlove View Post
I guess im a bit stumped..... there is obviously 'something'. I must have missed something.
Did the water ever get any better?
Do you use a fish 'feeder'?
How ard you reading right now? ph, gh, kh (super hard or soft can cause issues), ammonia, nitrates, nitrites?
Honestly- I would have broken it down by now- I commend your dedication. I would have changed substrates, no ferts, cleaned everything till it sparkles and start it back up. Its a glass cube that we try to make an ecosystem. Something is bound to go wrong- but never for this length of time IMO.

Note: ipkiss and I said something very similar. Not deliberately.
Great minds think alike!

Readings: pH about 7.0 (tap is 7.8, so the STS is lowering it--for now)
My multi-test strips don't have kH or gH. Total hardness reads ≈50mg/l, and total alkalinity at ≈40mg/l. Is there a way to calculate kH, Ca & Mg levels from those values?

I'm trying NilocG's Thrive for a week because my ludwigia is severely stunted, and the proserpinaca somewhat--so there obviously aren't enough nutrients in the water column for them. Algae must be sucking it all up. Don't have tests for P & K to know if those are deficient--which is another theory for the GWA. What are your favorite tests for those? Or are there any kits for the parameters you think most important that are reasonably priced? (Not looking to spend hundreds here.) I'm currently using the strips & the API ammonia test.

Yes, if it didn't get better the plan was to start fresh--which is why I was eyeing that 75g during the Petco sale. But I tore my right rotator cuff this week--so given that I basically just have the use of one arm, I'm not gonna be able to take down or move tanks anytime in the near future (months, likely) . So I guess I'll just have to assess the options when I get back in August & take it from there....

Yes, I've read that diatomaceous & UV filters will work. Are there any reasonably priced models you recommend, given that there's an Amazon Prime sale coming up this week? Though if I order now, I won't be here when they deliver it. Not sure if they allow delayed delivery on sale items like that.

Thanks for your input guys, and apologies for the lengthy responses--but like to be thorough so you don't have to keep asking follow up questions. And I certainly appreciate all the good advice I've gotten from you & others on here. Seems like some of it should've worked by now, but...

Starting to feel like Job here LOL
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post #51 of 51 (permalink) Old Today, 01:35 AM Thread Starter
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The GWA/brown algae pea soup combo was starting to get that dreaded BGA "old hiking boot" smell. So read some old threads on diatom & UV sterilizing filters, and picked up a 9w Green Killing Machine @ Petco. It's only been 24 hrs, but I'm already seeing a marked difference in water clarity. Leaving in the morning for 2 weeks, so glad I splurged on that. Here's hoping I'll come home to a clear tank.

The val is going crazy--in a matter of days it put out a new runner into the middle of the tank that grew to over a foot. That one has put out a runner over a foot long to the front glass. May come home to a tank full of val. Crypts are starting to slowly put out new leaves. Had placed an order of dwarf sag, red lily & Purple Night sword. First two never arrived, and the purple sword wasn't--just a generic green one. But went ahead & planted it in the middle to see what it does. Seems the STS substrate has lots of nutrients which might be fueling the algae/BGA, so if the val is any indication, I'm hoping other heavy rootfeeders can use some of that up and keep it from coming back. We'll see what I come home to....
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